Shenanigans sighted - advice?

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by downhillcrasher, Aug 8, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. downhillcrasher

    downhillcrasher Gold Member

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    I will post this to TOBB, to add to the accumulating data on United's decline and to entertain the peanut gallery. I am posting here as well, more specifically to ask your advice on what I should do. Should I report this to United? If so, how and to whom?

    I was flying with the future mrs downhillcrasher on United 509 from BWI to SFO on Saturday August 4th on an A320. I have never had a 'Shenanigans' sighting before but we were treated to two in a single flight, along with a celebrity sighting to boot. I realize this post is bit long, but I want to include as much detail as possible.

    We were seated in F, having upgraded well in advance with some expiring RPUs. Right up until the end of boarding there were three empty F seats (1B, 1E, and 3F). The GA came on board with 3 boarding passes for the last minute battlefield upgrades. First he asked the FA to make an announcement asking the people to be upgraded to come forward and the FA refused, saying "I don't understand why these people are being upgraded, I wont make an announcement if I don't understand what is happening. You can go back and take care of it." He went to the back only to report that the upgraders turned down their upgrades, preferring instead to sit together in Y rather than scattered about in F.

    This is where it gets interesting. On hearing this news, a debate started in the F galley with the FAs and the gate agent. One FA said, "its too bad we don't have any military on board we could move up." Then a second FA said "we should move up the two flight attendants we have on board." Next, the conversation shifted back too why the original upgrade people refused to move up to F.

    Overhearing that this party wanted to sit together, a very gracious Rickey Henderson (the famous baseball player), who happened to be sitting in 1F, offered to move to 3F and then proceeded to do so. This left 1B, 1E and 1F open. At this point we are 10 minutes past departure time and they are getting ready to shut the door. The GA missed Mr. Henderson's move and is off the plane. I quickly check the mobile site and see that there are still people on the upgrade waitlist.

    Still at the gate and the door about to shut, one of the flight attendants says she "will move them up". She goes to Y and the door shuts while she is still in the back. She returns with 2 people. These are not the folks who turned down their upgrades (who, thanks to Mr.Henderson, could now all sit together in row 1), nor the next people on the upgrade list. Instead its two clearly off-duty FAs. They take seats 1E and 1F and proceed to 'talk shop' with the working FAs, obviously happy with their big seats at the pointy end of the plane. Shenanigans!

    We depart with seat 1B empty. After take off, the FA begins beverage service. She asks the woman in 1A if there is anyone sitting in 1B. The woman says no, but adds that her child is Y and asks if he could he sit there. The flight attendant shrugged her shoulders, not saying yes, but certainly not saying no. I guess it's hard to say no to a mother and child after you've just upgraded your friends. The woman went to the back of the plane. She returned with her teenage son who sat in 1B and enjoyed the F meal service. Then, about halfway to SFO, he swapped with his sister who remained there until landing.

    As an additional note, the FA used the old style status based food service order process instead of the current/official row based one. While this mildly annoys me from a product consistency point of view, I guess it was good as row 1 was filled with Shenas (who all ended up with pasta).
     
  2. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    A messy and slightly absurd unfolding of events but I am not sure if, in the scheme of things, this amounts [even] to a mole hill. The reason for this is that if you just change a single player or event, none of this, which could have happened on any airline, any day, any where, would have happened. For instance, if the three upgraded passengers had simply accepted the upgrades, none of the subsequent events would have happened...
     
  3. downhillcrasher

    downhillcrasher Gold Member

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    I suppose it was a bit complex, but the fact that there were a number of opportunities for things to unfold differently is precisely why it is bothersome. United had several opportunities to play it the right way. The FA could have allowed the GA to make an announcement, rather than rudely refusing. They could have notified the folks in back that it was now possible for them to sit together (above and beyond their job description, but good customer service). But ok, I know it could be argued that its not the FAs job to handle upgrades and the flight needs to leave, so in that case just let the seats go empty. At the end of the day, putting your friends in F and letting a random person upgrade themselves is obviously not the right course of action.

    Edit: also, thank you for answering my question and offering your advice (which, I think, is to just let it go).
     
  4. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Two questions:

    How were you harmed by the events described?

    <tinfoil hat> Do you want UA to be able to associate your MP and FT ids with your actual identity? </tinfoil hat>
     
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  5. downhillcrasher

    downhillcrasher Gold Member

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    The people that were harmed were the next ones on the upgrade list. It wasn't me this time, but I have ended up #1 on the upgrade list many times and could well be me the next time.

    Also, United knows exactly who I am, including my FT and MP handles. I don't mind at all. The internet is no longer an anonymous free for all and so I am not saying anything here that I wouldn't say to them.
     
  6. Olton Hall
    Original Member

    Olton Hall Gold Member

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    Just send a note to UAinsider as a FYI. Don't expect an answer but they look into these things and try to correct issues when they learn of them.
     
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  7. downhillcrasher

    downhillcrasher Gold Member

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    Thanks Olton, I am leaning towards this being the best course of action.
     
  8. Jenny & Curt
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    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

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    As for me, I would be happy if you shared this with UA. DH and I worked what was, for us, hard to get premium status last year to take advantage of the published benefits. It was really a surprise to us when these were downgraded as of the merger rather than at the end of the status year. Thank goodness (!) I had to make one emergency flight to Chicago last summer when my son needed surgery, as it gave me enough miles for Premier Gold so hubby can get his E+ at booking if on my PNR. In short, it's hard enough to ever, ever get an upgrade, and it would be very upsetting to me to be that #1 gal who was passed over.
     
  9. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    The flight was already late if I understood your story correctly. Did the GA have the names/seats of the next people to move them, or would it have involved going back to the podium, look them up on the computer, ...? What if those people had declined, too?

    If you felt they were doing the wrong thing, why not speak up when you had the chance? The FAs also violated policy in the food prioritization... to your advantage, it seems. Maybe should have spoken up there, too.

    There are certainly cases where I'd feel it's worth reporting a problem even if it didn't affect me (e.g., if I saw the baggage handlers unnecessarily throw around checked bags from my window seat). But this isn't one of them. Just my opinion, of course.
     
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  10. downhillcrasher

    downhillcrasher Gold Member

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    I don't know if the GA had the next names or not. If he didn't then the seats should have gone empty or, god forbid, someone could have gone back and notified the first 3 folks that they could now be seated together in F. Eitherway, they shouldn't have gone to two non-revs and a random person.

    I am generally not afraid to speak up on these things, just as I am not afraid of UA knowing my FT/MP handle. In this case, I think I missed my chance before I realized it it as initially I thought they were doing the right thing. When the FA indicated she "would move them up", I thought she was referring to the initial 3 who turned down their upgrade, but who could now be seated together thanks to the passenger in 1F moving to 3F. When she returned with the 2 off duty FAs, the door was already shut and I didn't want to hold up the flight. But, I am speaking up now, which is all I can do at this point.

    Also FWIW, the food order issue did not benefit me, but it did benefit others in the F cabin. I noted it here only to further describe the generally outmoded attitude of the flight crew. Personally, I made sure to visit the wonderful AirSpace lounge at BWI before the flight (which I highly recommend to everyone traveling to/from BWI!).
     
  11. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Which published rule or policy are you going to cite in your complaint that the FA/GA violated?

    Looking at your FT profile, you joined about three years after me. Of course, you could've been lurking for a decade, so FWIW, I think if you go into the archives of the legacy UA forum, you will find plenty of examples of accusations of UA staff violating the rules to upgrade colleagues. I don't think individual reports like yours, while certainly entertaining for the peanut gallery here and on FT, aren't any evidence of any decline. With thousands of flights per day it's just not statistically significant.
     
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  12. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I think that after those three pax had declined, it was time to just close the door and push out. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight vision, the GA could have carried the waitlist onto the plane and just upgraded the next pax on the list. Without that and the plane already late in departing, to try to make sure that the upgrades were awarded would have been unjustified and counterproductive in the larger scheme of things, like ensuring that other pax made the next connection, etc...

    BTW, I have been upgraded a couple of times after I had already boarded, and neither time was this announced. The GA knew my originally assigned seat and just came to get me. I, in fact, prefer that approach to announcing seat upgrades over the PA, as no one else needs to know or cares.

    This is not a punishable "offense".
     
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  13. downhillcrasher

    downhillcrasher Gold Member

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    Thanks for all the advice everyone! I think I am going to go with what Olton Hall suggested and PM UAinsider an FYI note.
     
  14. downhillcrasher

    downhillcrasher Gold Member

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    No, I don't blame the GA at all, I think he did his job quite well. He tried to upgrade the folks on top of the list, but had to get the flight out on time. It was the actions of the FA (not notifying the people who wanted to sit together that they could and instead upgrading their friends and a random Y passenger) that bothered me and led to this thread.
     
  15. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Unfortunately, I am more familiar with and sympathetic to the GA going inside to hand new seat assignments than with these being announced over the PA. The bottom line is that the FA not announcing the upgrades did not have a practical impact. The GA had the perfect solution, which was to go inside and inform the 'lottery winners', who then refused the 'prize', precipitating the subsequent chain of events...

    I have a hard time assigning a blame in this accidental or contingent case, because things could have easily unfolded differently...This is not evidence of a decline because the airline could have just as easily been DL or AA
     
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  16. downhillcrasher

    downhillcrasher Gold Member

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    I suppose you are right, a single incident doesn't constitute a decline. Oh well, I'll let United decide what, if anything, should come from it.
     
  17. Flyer1976
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    Flyer1976 Gold Member

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    If the non-revs did not list for F there will be some sort of disciplinary action I promise you. Even the non-revs have to pay for a service charge in the premium cabins if they are not eligible for fee waived travel.

    Sent from my iPhone using milepoint
     
  18. jfhscott
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    jfhscott Silver Member

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    In my opinion, the worst thing that happened here was the shop talking with the NRSA's. I hate it.

    Imagine my disgust a couple of years ago when I was in F on a LHR-IAD and could not tear the FA away from her discussion of labor unrest with an NRSA when I needed a glass of water.

    tacky tacky tacky
     
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  19. Flyer1976
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    Flyer1976 Gold Member

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    I'm guilty of talking shop even as a revenue customer but I always make sure I'm not in the way of service onboard or at the cost of other customers. Some people just are not that considerate. For example I recently flew NRSA TPAC and I was in the galley with a friend of mine who was working the flight that I hadn't seen in a year. I made sure to chat with him during the break periods so I didn't interfere.

    What chafes my ass is that people who don't list for the higher class of services because they are too cheap and get it for free aka shenanigans onboard while other NRSAs paid to sit up front reflects poorly on everyone as a whole. ( I don't mean the fee waived folks but these who "sneak into BF/GF". )

    Sent from my iPhone using milepoint
     
  20. Sedosi

    Sedosi Gold Member

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    The most shocking item that I found in this story is that Rickey Henderson gave up his seat.
     
  21. Flyer1976
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    Flyer1976 Gold Member

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    I was wondering about that part too :p.

    Sent from my iPhone using milepoint
     
  22. sendbillmoney

    sendbillmoney Silver Member

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    My philosophy is to save my customer feedback "reports" for situations that truly affect me and the level of service I received and paid for. I figure that if I complain about every little thing, there will be entries in my record to that effect. Enough of those entries and I'll be the customer who cried "wolf." They won't take me seriously when it really does matter to me.
     
  23. perryplatypus

    perryplatypus Gold Member

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    Ditto, I have met Rickey Henderson many times and each time he was never friendly! To make it even worse he was one of my childhood icons :(
     
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  24. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Reductio ad absurdum:
    :D
     
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  25. EyeOnTheSkies

    EyeOnTheSkies Silver Member

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    I guess I don't know how NRSA listing works but I'm not a fan of getting FAs in trouble for sh*ts and giggles. It's bad karma. I hate the mentality that we need to tattle on shenanigans or possible shenanigans. In the grand scheme of things this is really pretty low on the list.
     

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